By Anthony Matt
In an effort to ensure the safest environment for our patients, visitors and colleagues, Essentia Health is implementing a new safety screening process at the St. Mary’s Medical Center emergency department, located at 401 E. First St.
Starting Tuesday, Sept. 26, anyone who uses the primary ED entrance will be subject to weapons screening. The screening process involves standing on a special mat and turning slowly for 15 seconds. Beforehand, visitors will be asked to place their personal items on a nearby shelf for inspection.
Any prohibited items, such as pepper spray, guns or knives, must be left in a locked vehicle. We are not able to store and return weapons that are handed over during screening. Our Security team will thus dispose of them.
Screening for weapons is a part of safety protocols at hospitals around the country. The process is similar to what you encounter when entering other public venues, such as courthouses, airports or concerts.
Essentia is proactively working to ensure the safety of our patients and staff after shootings in health care facilities around the country in recent years.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, health care workers' risk of injury due to workplace violence is five times greater than that of workers in other industries.
In the event that a patient needs immediate care, our Security team will conduct a screening with a hand-held wand when caregivers say it is medically appropriate. We thank patients and visitors for their understanding and for helping to keep Essentia safe.